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June 7, 2011

Installed the Trik-L-Start

Trik-L-Start with labels on wires
I got the engine trickle charger installed today into my 2005 Sprinter LTV.  After searching on the internet, I discovered the battery disconnect switch between the house and engine batteries is located under the driver's seat and it is accessible from the top of the seat base.  Thanks to TrikLStart.pdf this excellent write up in this thread: http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1150&highlight=trik-l-start, I found the disconnect switch.  I didn't want the unit where he put it because I like to store some things there.  I found a bracket bolted to the driver's seat on the door side that has nothing else on it.

Battery Disconnect Under Driver's Seat
Left wire = Engine battery
Right wire = House battery 

By moving my seat all the way forward, I was able to pull the Masonite cover out and gain access to the wires.  A test of my volt meter showed the bolts holding the bracket are grounded to the van body.  I tested each of the battery wires and verified the left one (closest to the engine) goes to the engine and the right one goes to the house batteries.

The next step was to figure out where to route the wires and attach the ground.  I decided that it would be better to ground the unit to the bracket instead of the ground inside the seat base because it would be very difficult to get a wrench in there to unscrew it.  I also decided to route the wires into the access where the fuses are.  The cover is plastic and doesn't sit tightly into the hole.   I wrapped the wires in electrical tape to provide additional protection to them.

Side of Driver's Seat Base with Bracket lower right
 I added labels to identify the engine battery cable, house battery cable, which wire nut belonged to the engine and house and that it is a battery disconnect switch.  I also put a label on the Trik-L-Start wires to identify the yellow wire as house wire and the blue wire as engine.  There's an additional red cable in there unconnected to anything that goes to the passenger seat base where a battery could be put.  My van has 2 house batteries in boxes on each side of the rear of the van.  I labeled it for future reference.
Trik-L-Start mounted on bracket

I have no idea what the metal bracket is there for.  There isn't one on the passenger seat base.  I removed the 3 hex nuts to remove the bracket.  The unit's mounting ears happened to line up with the right side holes if I turned it on its side.  I used #10 machine screws, lock washers, and nuts to securely attach the unit to the bracket.

I threaded the ground wire thru one of the holes in the bracket and put a wire tie around it to keep the excess wire tidy and behind the bracket. To ensure there is no insulation rubbing, I wrapped the wire with electrical tape where it goes thru the hole.

The unit comes with a tiny ring connector on the ground wire and they add in a bigger ring to replace it with.  It was a pain to put on the bigger ring but necessary since the bolts are almost 1/4 inch.  I then remounted the bracket.  Since the ground connector makes a bit of a bump, I added lock washers behind the bracket to hold it out a bit and make room for a secure contact of the ground wire connector.

The next step was to route the yellow and  blue wires into the cavity to the battery disconnect.
Ground wire on back of bracket

Bracket mounted on seat base & ground wire to bolt

Wires connected to battery cables on Battery Disconnect Switch
Yellow to house; Blue to engine
 I then unplugged the shore electric, turned the main DC disconnect switch off, and disconnected the negative wires on the engine battery and then the house batteries.  I tested with my volt meter to ensure there was no juice.

Next was unscrewing the engine cable on the left (10mm wrench) and putting the blue wire on, and tighten the nut back on.  Repeated for the house cable and the yellow wire.  I routed the yellow wire to the far right side to ensure they can't accidently meet.  I also put a small cable tie a couple inches down to hold the two wires together. I treated each connection with dielectric grease to keep the connections good and prevent corrosion.

With everything clearly labeled and wired up, I reconnected the engine battery negative cable and the house battery negative cable.  I then reconnected the shore power and turned the main DC switch back on..
Driver's seat base cover in place

The Trik-L-Start maintenance light showed green and the red warning light for backwards connection did not light.  The green maintenance light means the engine battery is not discharged and there is a low trickle charge going to it to keep it that way.

To finish up, I slid the Masonite board back over the top of the seat base and moved the seat back in place.

The unit is easily visible for monitoring but still out of the way even when the cat decides to sleep in that step well.

With this unit, I won't have to worry about the engine battery discharging when I don't drive the van for awhile but am hooked to shore power.

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